Dr. Steven Runo

Title/Qualifications: B.Sc., M.Sc., PhD
Biochemistry, Microbiology and Biotechnology
Contact Address:
Kenyatta University | Department of Biochemistry and Biotechnology | P. O. Box 43844-0100 Nairobi, Kenya
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Senior Lecturer and Chairman Department of Biochemistry,Microbilogy and Biotechnology
Area of Specialization:
Molecular Biology, Biotechnology


 Google Scholar:  https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&view_op=list_works&authuser=3&gmla=AJsN-F7MeTtQjknHvxhUX2pJwxVuHdilGuDnlwhoNmrTbfRWclrSUmDix4qnOtX3-svb5mosVBzFJhI0OHzU6SKdgVWawWdrHbxuOGG_RObqX2wznZd2ibU&user=2fCV0AgAAAAJ
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Research Interests:
My research interest focuses on use of modern tools in Molecular Biology to overcome biotic and abiotic constrains of food production as well as enhancing the understanding of modern biotechnology.  Specifically, my research revolves around five interrelated areas; i) long distance RNA trafficking between parasitic plants and their hosts, ii) RNA interference (RNAi) as a resistance mechanism against parasites – Striga and Cuscuta, iii) genetic engineering strategies for enhancing drought tolerance in tropical crops, iv) Agrobacterium rhizogenes transformation of cereals as a functional genomics tool for plant-parasite interactions, and v) molecular mechanisms of parasitic plants/host plants interactions.

Research Publications
Refereed journal papers

  • Waweru D, KuriaE, BradleyJ, Scholes J, Runo S. Tissue Culture Protocols for the Obligate Parasitic Plant Striga hermonthica and Implications for Host-Parasite Co-cultivation. Accepted 03 May 2019; Plant Cell Tissue and Organ Culture
  • Runo S Modern breeding approaches for durable resistance against the parasitic plant Striga Accepted 01 April 2019 Afrika Focus
  • Mutinda S, Masanga J, Mutuku J, Runo S, and Alakonya A. KSTP’94, an open pollinated maize variety has post-attachment resistance to Purple Witchweed (Striga hermonthica). Weed Science, 2018. 66(4):525-529.
  • Runo S, Kuria, E. Habits of a Highly Successful Cereal Killer, Striga. PLoS Pathogens, 2018. 14(1): e1006731. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal. ppat.1006731.
  • King'oria, EM, Obanda, V, Ndambiri, EM, Runo, SM, Chiyo, PI. Adding injury to infection: The relationship between injury status and genetic diversity of Theileria infecting plains zebra, Equus quagga. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 2018. 269-278.
  • Oruru MB, Mugendi EN, Pasquet R, Runo S. Response of a wild-type and modern cowpea cultivars to arbuscular mycorrhizal inoculation in sterilized and non-sterilized soil. Journal of Plant Nutrition, 2018. 41:1, 90-101, DOI: 10.1080/01904167.2017.1381728
  • Mbuvi, D. A., Masiga, C. W., Kuria, E., Masanga, J., Wamalwa, M., Mohamed, A., Timko, MP, Runo, S. Novel Sources of Witchweed (Striga) Resistance from Wild Sorghum Accessions. Frontiers in Plant Science, 2017 8, 271.
  • Mutegi, SM, Muchugi, A, Carsan, S, Kariba, R, Jamnadass R, Oballa P, Brunner AM, Runo, S. Genetic diversity of the African poplar (Populus ilicifolia) populations in Kenya. Tree Genetics & Genomes, 2016. 12:66
  • Kirigia D, Runo S, Alakonya A. A virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS) system for functional genomics in the parasitic plant Striga hermonthica. Plant Methods 2014, 10:16.
  • Ogugo V, Semagn K, Beyene Y, Runo S, Olsen M, Warburton ML. Parental genome contribution in maize DH lines derived from six backcross populations using genotyping by sequencing. Euphytica 2014, 1–11.
  • Mwangia IN,.Sanchez MC, Mkoji GM, Agola LE, Runo SM, Cupit PM, Cunningham C. Praziquantel sensitivity of Kenyan Schistosoma mansoni isolates and the generation of a laboratory strain with reduced susceptibility to the drug. International Journal of Parasitiology: Drugs and Drugs Resistance 2014, 4:287-295
  • Macharia MW, Runo SM, Muchugi AN. Genetic structure and diversity of East African taro [Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott]. African Journal of Biotechnology 2014.
  • Matheka JM, Anami S, Gethi J, Omer RA, Alakonya A, Machuka J, Runo SM A new double right border binary vector for producing marker-free transgenic plants. BMC Research Notes 2013, 6:448.
  • Runo S., Macharia, S., Alakonya, A.,Machuka, J., Sinha, N, Scholes, J.D. Striga parasitizes transgenic hairy roots of Zea mays and provides a tool for studying plant-plant Interactions. Plant Methods. 2012; 8:20.
  • Alakonya, A., Koenig, D., Kumar, R., Kimura, S., Townsley, B., Runo, S., Garces, H., Kang, J., Machuka, J., Sinha, N. "Interspecific RNAi of STM disrupts Cuscuta pentagona plant parasitism. Plant Cell 2012, 24(7):3153-­‐66.
  • Adam O.R., Matheka M.J., Runo S.R., Ali A.M., Kuria A., Masiga C., Mugoya C., Machuka J. Effects of auxin and source of explants on callus induction of tropical maize. Biotechnology 2012, 11: 225-­‐231.
  • Bedada LT, Seth MS, Runo SM, Tefera W, Machuka J. Regenerability of Elite Tropical Maize (Zea mays L.) Inbred Lines Using Immature Embryo Explants. African Journal of Biotechnology. 2012; 11(3): 598-605.
  • Runo S. Engineering host derived resistance against plant parasites through RNA interference‐ Challenges and opportunities. Bioengineered Bugs. 2011;2(4):1-­‐6.
  • Runo S, Alakonya, A., Machuka, J., Sinha, N. RNA interference as a resistance mechanism against crop parasites in Africa: a ‘Trojan horse’ approach. Pest Manag Sci. 2011;67:129–36.
  • Bedada LT, Seth MS, Runo SM, Tefera W, Machuka J. Plant Regeneration of Ethiopian Tropical Maize (Zea mays L.) Genotypes. Biotechnology. 2011;10(6 ):506 ­‐13.
  • Alakonya AE, Runo, S.M., Keonig, D., Monda, E., Machuka, J., Sinha, N. Lack of GFP Trafficking from Transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana to Parasitizing Cuscuta pentagona. Global Journal of Biotechnology & Biochemistry 2010;5 (4):237-­‐42.

Conference Presentations

  • Runo S., Honaas, L., Wamalwa M., dePamphilis C., Timko, M. Sorghum resistance and Striga virulence as two sides of the same coin. Presented at the 14th World Congress in Parasitic Plants. June 25-30, 2017. Asilomar Conference Center. Pacific Grove, California. USA. Keynote Paper
  • Runo S, Honaas, L., Wamalwa M., dePamphilis C., Timko, M. Striga/sorghum arms race during domestication as revealed by Dual RNA-seq. Keynote Paper. 7th International Weed Science Congress (IWSC). June 19-25, 2016, Prague, Czech Republic. Keynote Paper
  • Runo S., Honaas, L., Wamalwa M., dePamphilis C., Timko, M. Striga/sorghum arms-race during domestication. Presented at the 13th World Congress in Parasitic Plants 5-10 July 2014
  • Runo S., Macharia S., Alakonya A., Machuka J., Sinha S. and Scholes JD. Agrobacterium rhizogenes transformation of zea mays: a functional genomics tool for host-parasite interactions. Presented at the 12th World Congress on Parasitic Plants. The University of Sheffield 5th -10th July 2012
  • Runo S, David-Schwartz, R., Townsley, B., Machuka, J., Sinha, N.  siRNAs Against Parasitic Plants: A Trojan Horse Approach.  Bio-Earn/ VIRES Scientific Conference Harnessing Bioresources for Socia-economic Transformation for Eastern Africa; 2009 24th - 26th November, 2008; Speke Resort and Conference Centre Kampala Uganda, Kampala Uganda; 2009.
  • Runo S, Oduor, R., Binnot, J., Machuka, J., Thomson, J. . Genetic transformation of tropical maize for drought tolerance.  Third World Academy of Sciences Biosafenet workshop on Plant Abiotic Stress Tolerance 2009 10-12 June 2009; Rome, Italy; 2009.
  • Runo S, David-Schwartz, R., Townsley, B., Machuka, J., Sinha, N. Biotechnological approaches to parasitic plants control Breeding and Seed Systems for African Crops 2007 26th - 29th March, 2007; Instituto de Investigacao Agraria de Mocambique (IIAM), Maputo Mozambique; 2007.
  • Runo MS, David-Schwartz, R., Townsley, B., Machuka, J., Sinha, N. RNAi as a resistance mechanism against parasitic plants.  International Symposium on Integrating New Technologies for Striga Control: Towards Ending the Witch-hunt 2006 November 5-11, 2006; Hilton HotelAddis Ababa, Ethiopia; 2006.
  • Runo MS. Striga KNOX1 RNAi as a resistance mechanism in maize and sorghum.  48th annual maize genetics conference; 2006 9th-12th march 2006; Asilomar conference grounds. Pacific Grove, California USA; 2006.
  • Runo MS. Striga KNOX1 RNAi as a resistance mechanism in maize.  47th annual maize genetics conference. Grand Geneva resort. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, USA.; 2005.
  • Runo S, Townsley, B., Machuka, J., Sinha, N. . A strategy to make maize resistant to Striga.  2nd general meeting of The Rockefeller Foundation-supported program Biotechnology, Breeding and Seed Systems for African Crops. Safari Park hotel Nairobi, Kenya.; 2005.

Major Achievements Since Last Appointment (Since 2013)

  • Resource mobilization: Over KES 60 million in research grants
  • Publications: Over 10 publications in high impact peer refereed journals
  • Supervision and mentoring: Successful supervision of 8 PhD and 17 MSc students
  • Networking: Created over 10 international, regional and local partnerships
  • Professional and community development: Keynote speaker in 3 international conferences; organized 2 workshops for dissemination of research findings
  • Administration: Chairman of Department; Developed new curriculum; mentored Ph.D and M.Sc. students in grant writing and research.

Last Updated on Thursday, 05 September 2019 07:39


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